11 months ago

On a wing and a prayer: Alabama Gold Wing Association motorcycle riders on trip of a lifetime

There’s nothing like riding the highway, the sun on your face, the wind at your back … just you and your buddies:

“Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way …” – Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild,” 1967

More than 100 members of the Alabama Gold Wing Association, including cyclists from other Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) chapters, are taking the ride of a lifetime.

On March 25, the Gold Wing motorcycle enthusiasts met in Wilmington, North Carolina, for the annual GWRRA cross-country tour. Some Gold Wingers came from as far away as Iowa, New Mexico, New York and Quebec, Ontario, to join in the 2,776-mile trek from Wilmington to Chula Vista, California.

Ten years ago, GWRRA’s four original bikers rode from Wilmington to Phoenix in only four days.

“We’re on our “40 to Phoenix’ trip,” paralleling I-40 from Wilmington, North Carolina, all the way from Arizona and into Phoenix,” said longtime Alabama Gold Wing member Danny Baker. “We’ll take 10 days, though.”

During the journey, club members will sleep in eight states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Dave Whortman, a rider from Elizabethton, Tennessee, said the trip is part of his “bucket list.”

“There’s a lot of camaraderie in the club,” said Whortman, who retired from Edward Jones Investments after 35 years of service. “One of the items on my list was to do some type of long-distance trip on my Gold Wing. I was reading about last year’s trip in the GWRRA magazine and I thought, that’s my ‘in.’ I knew that people in GWRRA are good, nice people, and I knew I’d be with others in the event that I would have a break down or whatever.

“I get to see this beautiful country of ours, one day at a time,” the former investments counselor said. Before leaving the Volunteer State, Whortman had a complete tune-up on his Gold Wing motorcycle to make sure it could handle the mileage.

‘Heavy metal thunder’

Riding about 5,552 miles on a cross-country motorcycle tour isn’t for the faint of heart. Indeed, Whortman agreed that stamina, endurance, sheer guts and determination are required.

“It’s fun, but you need to be mentally and physically prepared,” he said, with a laugh.

On March 28, the motorcyclists spent a grueling eight hours on the road, logging 410 miles on the first leg of their journey, on the way to Conway, Arkansas. The only stops: breakfast, lunch and breaks for “a quick snack, Coke or coffee” on the road. Most of the bikers pull heavy-duty, air-ride trailers loaded with soft drinks, bottled water and high-carbohydrate snacks for brief road stops.

“The longest day we had was last Thursday, when we left from Barber Motorsports in Leeds to ride to Conway, Arkansas,” Baker said. After the long drive, club members wound down with a barbecue cookout at a Day’s Inn, where many stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, talking about the trip.

“It’s been a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing for me,” Baker said, recalling his excitement at reaching snowy Moriarty, New Mexico, on March 31. “I had on my winter Thermosuit. I was prepared for the cold.”

Riders converged in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 3 for a tour of GWRRA International Headquarters. GWRRA has more than 72,000 U.S., Canadian and international members, with more than 800 chapters that foster safe, enjoyable riding. Alabama has 14 GWRRA chapters.

After a day of sightseeing, club members rested at a Days Inn. On April 4, they were “hugging the road” to Chula Vista, with plans to enjoy a beach weekend.

Baker plans to “dip his toes in the Pacific Ocean” and fill a couple of bottles with sand and salt water.

“I’m going to make a little memorial for my Dad,” said Baker, 68. “He saw the Pacific Ocean, but never got in.”

They visited Mexico on April 5, with more beach time planned for April 6. Finally, on April 7, riders will begin the journey home to their families.

Safety on highways and byways

“This ride is a dream come true for many of us,” said Baker, a member of the Hueytown chapter of GWRRA for more than 30 years. He bought his first Honda Gold Wing in 1986.

He enjoys helping teach the community to ride safely. GWRRA has more than 72,000 U.S., Canadian and international members, with more than 800 chapters that foster safe, enjoyable riding. Alabama has 14 GWRRA chapters.

“We promote a positive image of cycling,” said Baker, GWRRA’s state officer for membership enhancement. “I’ve rode pretty steadily since 1985. It’s therapeutic. You become almost one with the road.”

Baker has devoted much of his spare time through GWRRA in helping educate people about the importance of motorcycle safety. The GWRRA’s rider education program, Riding Safely and Sharing the Road, helps keep motorcycle riders and drivers cognizant about possible road hazards.

Baker, who sports bright, neon yellow and green clothing while motorcycling, shares safety tips with his riding buddies. To prevent traffic congestion, the bikers are riding in groups of seven, leaving at staggered times.

“Every morning before we leave, we have a little discussion on how we’re going to ride safely during the day, based on any route we want to take or anything we’d like to stop and see,” Baker said. “I say a prayer before I get on my motorcycle.”

“We look out for each other,” he added. “We have a good time together, being safe and enjoying good company while riding. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

38 mins ago

Montgomery launches ‘Feed the Meter for the Homeless’ project

Under the leadership of Mayor Steven L. Reed, new specialized parking meters were installed last week in downtown Montgomery to provide a quick, convenient way to support locals affected by homelessness.

Reed announced the meters were on the way during a recent city council meeting. Called the “Feed the Meter for the Homeless” project, the City’s new initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH).

The special parking meters are green and offer residents a way to donate directly to support MACH and central Alabama agencies working with those experiencing homelessness in Alabama’s capital city. Donations will be accepted in the forms of coins or cash at each specialized meter and by card through the ParkMobile app (zone 36999) or online payment.

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“The Feed the Meter for the Homeless initiative connects compassion with convenience by allowing Montgomery residents and visitors to support our neighbors affected by homelessness and its devastating ramifications,” Reed said in a statement. “Each donation is a hand-up to help those in need and an investment in building a better future for Montgomery and the River Region.”

For more information on Feed the Meter for the Homeless MGM, please click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Cathy Randall now serving on board of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

Dr. Cathy J. Randall, chairman of the board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, is now serving as a board member for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The Women’s Fund made the announcement in a recent release, detailing that Randall term’s officially began on January 1. A Birmingham native and Tuscaloosa resident, she is a longtime, prominent civic and corporate leader, as well as the legendary former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

Tracey Morant Adams, board chair for The Women’s Fund, said in a statement, “The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham strives to elevate and amplify women’s voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to welcome Dr. Randall to our board as she is a well-established voice in the state.”

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“Cathy’s passion for community service and her experience in building a better Alabama will be a tremendous asset for the organization,” Adams added.

Randall’s service to the state includes being immediate past chairman of the Alabama Academy of Honor and former president of the boards of directors of the American Village, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and the David Mathews Center of Civic Life, as well as former director of Alabama Girls State.

Additionally, she currently serves on the board of Alabama Power Company and is a former board member of Mercedes Benz USI. Randall was the co-chair of Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee and was named as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer Multimedia in 2018.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Sessions responds to ‘desperate and afraid’ Byrne and Tuberville — ‘Sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point’

With Alabama’s U.S. Senate Republican primary headed into the home stretch, the field’s three front-runners are beginning to mix it up among one another.

The first significant shot came from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who on Saturday went up on air with an ad attacking both his leading opponents: former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has thrown a few barbs as well while on the stump, including one at Sessions that accused him of having “turned on” President Donald Trump.

In a statement given to Yellowhammer News, Sessions condemned the tone of both Byrne and Tuberville, noting their positions in recent polling and describing their tacks as “sleazy.”

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“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign. But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid,” Sessions stated. “Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point.”

Sessions warned there would be a response if this activity persisted.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” he continued.

The former U.S. Senator maintained that Alabamians in this primary will be focused on substantive issues.

“The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing our strong Trump economy.”

Alabama Republican voters on March 3 will cast a ballot for their preference to represent them on the general election ballot in November.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Leaders, educators and students gather for Alabama’s 2nd Annual HBCU Summit

Alabama’s 2nd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit celebrated the state’s 14 HBCUs and the value they bring to higher education across our state and country. Saturday’s event, moderated by Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, was held at Miles College in Fairfield.

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The event kicked off with a panel discussion titled “Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar.” The session included comments from:

“Extraordinary panel of women in leadership positions,” Jones said afterwards. “I think they provide unique insights to this. Just an amazing group of women that come from varied backgrounds — they came from academics, but also from business, so it’s a unique perspective that is what is going on with HBCUs but also with higher education in general.”

The panelists touched on a number of topics, including ways to help more high school students and nontraditional students get enrolled, making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simpler to fill out, partnering with businesses to offer degrees and curriculum the businesses need and working together to elevate the communities they serve.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on is that the benefit of being an HBCU is that … you may not have these large classrooms like you have (elsewhere), but you have teachers that know your name, teachers that care,” Archie said. “We’re going to give you that pep talk when you need that pep talk and we’re going to help you achieve.”

It is that level of concern for students that stood out to Jones.

“These female leaders are so dynamic and so passionate about what they do,” Jones said. “They care so much about their students and their communities. They really represent the best of all HBCUs. HBCUs are the fabric of the communities and I think you saw that reflected here today.”

The summit also featured a career fair and an afternoon panel discussion titled “Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses.” The panel, moderated by Jones, featured students from Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Shelton State Community College, Talladega College and Trenholm State Community College.

“Trying to educate and train the workforce of the 21st century is going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “We’re changing technologically, we’re changing demographically, we’re online — everything is moving in a different direction. Education has got to keep up with that, but also so do businesses. They’ve also got to start reaching out and develop those partnerships to not only train, but to mentor. I think you heard that today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP field while Jones trails all, Birmingham’s battle over monuments and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Is President Donald Trump causing mistrust in government or is he exploiting that lack of trust?

— With new polls out, does Jeff Sessions have the GOP race locked up and does Doug Jones even have a chance?

— Is Birmingham’s mayor boosting his profile while continuing the fight over a Confederate monument?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Secretary of State John Merrill to discuss the latest report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that claims Alabama is suppressing voters and Merrill’s willingness to take on more responsibility at the Secretary of State’s office.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the waste of millions of dollars Alabama municipalities spend on “public notices” because of a series of outdated laws requiring publication of voter rolls and public notices in local newspapers.

Alabama Politics This Week – 2/16/20

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP fields while Jones trails all, Birmingham's battle over monuments has no real purpose and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Friday, February 14, 2020

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.